What are the Standard RAID Levels?

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Computers are very simple to use in today’s era. However, while computers are becoming much easier to utilize, the technology needed for the computers to function properly is becoming more and more complex. One of the most complicated aspects of computers is data, as there are complex patterns and movements needed in order to store data properly in a single computer.

In computer storage, there is a term called RAID or redundant array of independent disks, and this term is a name for a data storage virtualization technology that allows the combination of several physical disc drive components to perform various storage procedures, like improving the performance of reading and storing data, and enhancing data redundancy that strengthens data to prevent multiple errors.

For computers, there are different standard RAID levels that are utilized for different purposes. What’s great about standard RAID levels is that they will give you a much easier time determining what’s wrong with your computer’s storage, so you can easily recover data from failed RAID 5 or just simply fix a single disk drive component. Here are some details for the various standard RAID levels to know more about them.

RAID 0 (Striping)

The first standard raid level is RAID 0, which is specifically created for striping, which is a process wherein the computer would use multiple disk drive components in order to not overload a single component, and this process would then allow the computer to run faster. The reason why data storage runs faster through RAID 0 is that the multiple disks within the disk drive would work as one in reading and writing data.

However, the drawback to using only RAID 0 is that there will be no redundancy, which is another process in data storage wherein the disks will replicate data so that the copy will serve as the backup for the original data if ever it gets corrupted. As many computers are prone to data corruption, using only RAID 0 in data storage can be quite risky since you will most likely experience complete data loss when your disk drive fails.

RAID 1 (Mirroring)

RAID 1 (Mirroring)

The next RAID level is RAID 1, which actually has something that RAID 0 lacks, which is redundancy or mirroring. The RAID 1 is specifically utilized to copy data from one disk to another. So, it can be said that RAID 1 would have double the amount of disks used compared to RAID 0, as RAID 1 would need to have another set of disks that it will use to replicate data for backup.

The great thing about RAID 1 is that you will have backup data ready if ever the original data gets corrupted. In addition, replacing the corrupted data is also relatively fast and easy because the disks that carry the backup data are already within the disk drive. However, since the disk drive will have to read and write the same data to two separate disks, the speed of RAID 1 is much slower compared to RAID 0, so the computer may experience latency in data storage.

RAID 5 (Striping and Distributed Parity)

RAID 5 combines all the best elements of RAID 0 and RAID 1 and created one of the most balanced standard RAID levels available today. RAID 5 would usually have three disks that are working together to separate or strip data, so the parts of that data are scattered across those three disks.

However, in addition to separating data into three disks, RAID 5 would also provide parity information for each disk, which would allow the disks to have a code for the parts of the data that aren’t contained within them. For example, there is a part of data that is not found in the first disk, but it does have the code for that part that can be used to replicate the said part of the data if ever it gets corrupted from the other disks. There are much more complex procedures and steps that are involved within the parity process, but in simpler terms, parity information is beneficial for getting back up data for RAID 5.

Unfortunately, the downside to using RAID 5 is that it is not suitable for computers that do heavy amounts of writing, as the RAID 5 has too many complex tasks that would prevent the computer from writing and reading data quickly. So, RAID 5 is much more suitable for standard file servers and web servers that don’t have too much data to store and process.

RAID 6 (Striping and Distributed Parity)

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RAID 6 is pretty much similar to RAID 5, but the difference is that RAID 6 uses at least four disks instead of three disks, which is what you would normally find in RAID 5. As RAID 6 uses four disks, you will have more options on what disks to use if ever another disk gets corrupted. So, if two disks failed, you still have two disks left instead of one on the RAID 6.

The drawbacks of RAID 6 are also similar to RAID 5 because they perform complex tasks that wouldn’t allow them to perform as fast as RAID 0 and RAID 1. Furthermore, RAID 6 would also have a much slower time restoring corrupted data or files since it would rely on parity information instead of an actual copy of the data that was corrupted.

However, the advantage that RAID 6 and even RAID 5 has over the first two RAID levels is that they would reduce the stress that the disk drive is taking when it is reading or writing data because there will be more disks involved in the process that would even out the tasks performed by every component of the disk drive. You can imagine the RAID 6 as a group of students that are working on a single project efficiently and with even task distribution instead of relying on one or two leaders to finish the project.

There are also other standard RAID levels available, but the four that are mentioned above are considered the most common. Review each standard RAID level to see which one is the most suitable or compatible for your computing and data storage needs.

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